SAN JOSE (KPIX) — Three more Bay Area counties were expected to enter the less restrictive Orange Tier this week, allowing at least one business sector to reopen for the first time since the pandemic began.

The announcement will likely come on Tuesday as to whether Santa Clara, San Francisco and Marin will join San Mateo County in the Orange Tier.

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San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said during a Facebook Live post Monday night that he expected Santa Clara County to enter the Orange Tier.

Meanwhile, business owners are already preparing for looser restrictions.

“Each day I kept thinking, certainly this isn’t going to happen, but each day it gets closer I’m so excited,” said YogaSix Mountain View co-Owner Toni King. “I feel like this is the path to where we might actually get to the point where we could be profitable.”

King, who opened her studio with her wife during the pandemic, said they have lost money each month.
Under the Orange Tier, gyms and fitness studios would be able to run at 25 percent capacity. Currently, the industry is allowed to operate at 10 percent capacity indoors.

“It’s been very difficult with all these changes, they close and then they reopen, then we go to 25 percent capacity and it goes down,” said Left Bank Brasserie Manager Gabriel Lopez.

Restaurants will be able to operate at 50 percent capacity, up from 25 percent, under the Orange Tier. Lopez said if they can fill tables both in and outdoors, it would essentially be like filling the restaurant.

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He said this allows them to bring back some workers they were forced to lay off, and even hire more people.

“It’s very difficult for all the employees that when we shut down we need to lay them off,” Lopez said.

For the first time since the start of the pandemic, non-essential offices can reopen at 25 percent capacity, although working remotely is still highly encouraged. Bars without food can now also operate outdoors. The industry had been forced to shut down completely if the establishment didn’t offer food.

Places of worship, movie theaters, wineries, breweries and distilleries will also be allowed to expand capacity indoors.

“It’s great news, but we need to be responsible,” Lopez said.

His sentiment is shared by many struggling business owners. But they also feel this is a sign that we may be near the end of the pandemic, that’s taken lives, businesses and human connection.

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“We’ve had people walk in the door and do happy dances and some people with tears in their eyes of just finally getting to be around other human beings,” said King.